One of the hardest things I’ve done is try to refuse the plastic bags at the grocery store. If I know I’m headed to the store, sure, I’ll take my own. The problem is the grocery is often a last minute stop at the end of other errands. So, I’ve taken to stashing canvas bags – leftovers from everything from a kindergarten hand print project for Mother’s Day to the City of Brookfield library bag I was issued as an alderman – in each of the cars. It’s helping.

I’ve also started refusing bags when it’s one or two items at the electronics or drug store. At first security looked at this practice with one eyebrow raised, but over the years it’s become more accepted. Finally, whatever bags do come home are reused. I try to bring home paper if I’m caught off guard. We use them in the garage for sorting recycling. The plastic that find their way home do a turn in a bathroom trash can before they are tossed. Shopping bags are reused as gift bags down the road.

Refusing a bag is the better way to keep one from a landfill. It’s not just bags that get in the way, though. I’ve started walking away from products that over package. We’ve taken to ordering our music online, and to my delight, movies are starting to be delivered that way, too. I gave up the membership to Sam’s Club because bulk wasn’t working with only one child home. That’s saved me garbage woes as well.

I know, someone will catch me with a plastic bag someday a put it on the front page of their blog, but in the meantime, it’s working around here. If I don’t take it home, I won’t have to throw it away.


  1. My brother, not because he’s particularly “green” but because they’re easier to carry, has started to take canvas bags to the store with him.

    He puts them in the front of the cart so that when the cashier drops the front to unload the bags are they first thing out. He reports that on his last trip to Woodman’s the cashier took the bags, set them on the counter, turned to him and asked…”Paper, Sir, or plastic.”

    It shouldn’t be so hard. It just shouldn’t.

  2. Dave Frank says:

    I really dislike the over packaging as well. The problem is doubly bad when Brookfield refuses to recycle so many types of plastic.

    “No other plastics coded with 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7. ”

    Not sure why that is.

  3. That’s basically the way we do it. My wife stores plastic bags in the car since she mostly shops at Aldi’s–we need them for there anyway.